AS a soccer goalkeeper, Brooke Alexander is well versed in catching the ball under pressure and booming clearing kicks.
But how about trying to reel in the ball when an opponent who stands at over six-feet wants it as well?
And doing it in a sport where you are still a relative newcomer?
That is the mission Alexander faces this Saturday when she lines up at fullback for the Bathurst Giants in the women’s Central West AFL grand final.
She will be tagging star Demons full forward Lauren Hazell, an experienced foe who stood at six-feet before she even turned 16.
Last season Hazell booted more goals than any other senior player – male or female – in the Central West AFL competition with 52 majors.
This season she has eclipsed that mark, having 56 to her name going into the decider at George Park 2. Still, Alexander will not shy away from the challenge of restricting her.
“She’s knows what she is doing on the field there, so we are going to have our work cut out for us on her,” she said. “I get the job on her, hopefully we get to spread it around a little bit, but it should be fun.
“There’s plenty more room to run around on this ground, so hopefully it works in our favour.”
While Hazell’s resume includes playing as a member of the NSW women’s AFL squad, prior to 2018 Alexander admitted she was “never really interested” in rules.
However, Alexander has plenty of experience as a goalkeeper in soccer and those skills have served her well since joining the Bathurst Giants’ ranks.
She has featured in the Giants’ best performers a number of times and feels the camaraderie within the side has not only played a big role in getting them to the grand final, but could help them win it.
“One of the girls from soccer put it on Facebook and said ‘Who wants to play AFL?’. I put my hand up,” she said of her decision to try Australian rules.
“It’s been excellent, one of the best decisions I’ve made all year I reckon.
“The bunch of people I’m playing with, it’s made the transition really easy. We are all very dedicated and that shows, but we’re all good friends off the field as well. You know you’ve got that support behind you, and everywhere across the field.”
Alexander and her fellow back line exponents held defending premiers the Bathurst Lady Bushrangers scoreless in the final term in the preliminary final. That they did so under immense pressure will give them confidence for the decider.
Opening bounce on Saturday is at 12.30pm.